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Author: Consumer Choice Center

Is there a future for cannabis consumption lounges?

After much consultation and a lot of waiting, British Columbia released its What We Heard consultation report on the possibility of cannabis consumption lounges in January. The results were somewhat predictable: cannabis consumers and those connected to the industry were generally in favour, while non-cannabis users were against the plan.

Public health and law enforcement, for their part, expressed similar concerns they’ve had all along with legalization: health consequences, keeping it out of the hands of young people, and increased rates of impaired driving. 

It was far from the slam dunk that some in the industry were hoping to see, and it paints a cloudy picture of the future of consumption spaces. To many, the lack of spaces available to publicly consume cannabis remains one of legalization’s pieces of unfinished business. “This lack of consumption spaces is alienating,” wrote Amanda Siebert last year, “and it continues to stigmatize the plant long after we’ve been told it’s okay to partake in our substance of choice.” 

But if BC’s report is anything to go by, it’s hard to conclude that dedicated consumption cafes are, at this point, anything but a pipe dream. Consultation processes have failed to identify agreed-upon regulatory or business models for the sector, and politicians have been mostly apathetic towards reopening the question—in 2021, The Canadian Press reported that few provincial governments were even considering allowing them any time soon. 

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Taiwan Is About to Ban the Use of Nicotine Vapes

Taiwan looks set to become the next country in Asia to ban nicotine vaping products.

On January 12, amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act effectively cleared the legislative floor. Now, the legislation only awaits a presidential nod—a formality given that President Tsai Ing-wen is from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party that proposed it. 

The news, which arrives not long after the Philippines enacted relatively pro-vape regulations, has elicited strong reactions from consumers, policy experts and medical experts, who had some hopes that the tide might be turning in favor of tobacco harm reduction (THR). 

Taiwan appears to be emulating regulations in nearby Japan, where heated tobacco products (HTPs) are sold legally but nicotine vapes are prohibited. The availability of HTPs in Japan has seen a dramatic reduction in cigarette sales. But THR advocates will wonder why an option indicated to have an even lower risk profile—and shown to be a more effective smoking cessation aid than nicotine replacement therapy—is about to become formally illegal. Other Asian countries to have banned vapes include India and Thailand

In Taiwan’s strained governmental nomenclature, HTPs have been classified “designated tobacco products” and are subject to regulation, while vaping devices have been accorded the category of “tobacco-like products.” The imminent ban includes use of e-cigarettes, with penalties of up to $330 for violations. (Previously, vapes had existed in something of a legal gray area.)

This has ignited debate in Taiwan, a country of 24 million where 13 percent of the population smokes, including almost a quarter of men. While millions of upset vape users have been left in the lurch, anti-tobacco groups are meanwhile demanding HTPs be banned too. The law, which will likely come into effect in a month after the presidential assent, will inevitably force vape shops to close and a rapidly growing industry to shutter or go underground.

While it’s difficult to deduce the motivations for the legislative decision, Taiwan policy experts and vape users point to a combination of misinformation, financial considerations trumping public health, and the positions taken by World Health Organization’s Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) on novel nicotine alternatives.

“The issue did not have enough public discussion and the approach to harm reduction should be more thoroughly debated,” Simon Lee, the Taiwan policy fellow at Consumer Choice Center, a global consumer advocacy group in Washington, told Filter. “For instance, we have seen misinformation, especially with regard to nicotine, circulating among anti-tobacco activists. It is beyond reasonable doubt that Taiwan’s consumers deserve a much better outcome.”

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#ConsumerChoice: Mental Health

At a time when NHS dental services are in crisis – and A&E, ambulance and nursing services are the focus of industrial action due to pay and conditions adding extra strain on the workload – protecting and supporting the mental health of staff in the workplace must become a priority.

A spokesperson from the Consumer Choice Center reports from an event in Switzerland that aims to address the situation.

As world leaders gather in Davos, Switzerland, the Consumer Choice Center hosted a panel on the importance of mental health support. Speakers discussed how challenges to mental health are increasing after the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and economic uncertainty, and focused on effective coping techniques.

The “Prioritising Mental Health in Times of Global Crisis” panel was moderated by Jillian Melchior, editorial board member at The Wall Street Journal, with opening remarks by Kathleen Kingsbury, Opinion Editor at The New York Times.

Kingsbury told her audience: “Journalists are no strangers to stress, anxiety and trauma. Just last week we lost a reporter in the newsroom, Blake Hounshell, after a long battle with depression.

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November 2022

November was like a bullet train for us at Consumer Choice Center: we’re very excited to publish our annual Sharing Economy Index, and our North American Affairs Manager David Clement was invited by the ECR party to present to MEPs and stakeholders in Brussels on the topic of PFAS and what smart regulations look like.

The CCC was *very online* this month. We had successful media hits on Orban’s price controls in Politico EU, Brussels Report, and Libération, and some stellar podcast episodes on Maltese cannabis and healthcare competition with Emmanuelle Faubert!

Also, don’t forget to check out our social media campaigns against the EU’s myopic agricultural policies and higher taxes for nicotine products. While you’re at it, don’t mind us asking for some love on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Let’s move on to our top picks for the month!

Getting Sustainability Right  ♻️
“Paper or plastic?” It’s often hard to make the right choice for your pocketbook and the environment. Looking at the facts, we discover that plastic has many benefits. Its invention has been a revolution in many areas: from medical equipment to cleaning gear, from packaging to extend shelf-life to containers keeping our food intact for delivery.In many cases, plastic is in fact the more sustainable choice for consumers. Organizations such as Greenpeace pretend to have the moral high ground without having the facts: single-use plastic shopping bags outperform all its alternatives when it comes to the environment.
Our own Senior Policy Analyst Bill Wirtz points it out here: “Any rule or regulation that restricts the choices of consumers is bad. However, it somehow is even worse when the suggested rule does not even achieve the results it intended. Banning plastics would not just deprive us of products we need but also increase our carbon footprint in many sectors.”
Open Skies for All 🇨🇦🛬
Is there anything more related to freedom than flying? For birds, maybe. Not necessarily for visitors of Ottawa. It is very strange that still, in 2022, the federal government decides how many flights can land in Canada from a certain country based on… a document called “Open Skies Agreement”. The agreement applies to 24 countries and EU member states, and allows consumer choice to prevail when it comes to traveling there and back. For others, there seems to be an unwanted tariff.
As our North American Affairs Manager David Clement says: “If a market-based approach is good enough for 24 countries plus Europe, why isn’t it good enough for all countries? We should let the market decide where Canadians want to travel to, how often and with what carrier.” Preach!
Crypto in Europe after FTX Collapse 🇪🇺
Is there anyone who hasn’t yet heard about FTX and modern villain Sam Bankman-Fried? It’s been an interesting couple few weeks for crypto-nerds out there while many are just struggling to keep up with the latest crypto terms. On top of all that, the EU is crafting its own regulatory scheme in the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) to supposedly avoid such an FTX in Europe–more confusion.
Fret no more! Our Deputy Director Yaël Ossowski has the perfect piece for you to make sense of it all and he really leans into the principle behind decentralized technologies: “It would benefit us all if rules help bring regulatory clarity, keep shady actors at bay and provide financial transparency. If we want to craft the future of decentralized digital money, it will mean smarter rules that punish bad actors while promoting financial sovereignty.”Added to that, in the US many progressive legislators want to do everything to keep Bitcoin and its crypto offspring from reaching Americans’ hands. Yaël writes up an article pointing out the many progressive tenants of the Bitcoin and crypto economy. Must share with your bleeding heart friends!We’ll also be meeting with regulators in both the US and Europe to discuss the best path for consumer-friendly policies on cryptocurrencies. Keep an eye out for our thoughts afterward!
That is all from us this month! We hope you stay tuned our great work around the world, and please reach out if there are some pressing consumer issues we shouldbe covering.

October 2022

Halloween was hardly the scariest day of October this year. The UK changed their Prime Minister twice in two months, and elections in Brazil created new talking points–to say the least. As always, our team in the Consumer Choice Center has been working tirelessly to defend your rights on every front possible. Before we start, please give us some love on our social media channels because let’s be honest, it is the easiest way to keep up with our work and the team.

Onwards, shall we?

Greens/EFA Report goes after plant researchers.It fails.If you have been following us closely, you already know that the EU is determined to set the bar very low in quality for agricultural policies. They constantly turn their backs on innovation and technology for the sake of ideological talking points. Worse, they do it at the expense of everyone else.In this piece, our Research Director Dr Emil Panzaru points out the inconsistencies of the Greens’ response to the agricultural crisis in Europe: “uncontrollable” genetic engineering, “unsafe mutations”, benefits of 100% organic farming, and much more. As Emil says, Europe’s agricultural policies are “less about science than it is about the politics in science.” Check it out here.
Press Conference in Brussels 
Together with the World Vapers’ Alliance, CCC is fighting the good fight for consumers’ lifestyle choices. In October, we had two major events to remember our cause.First, we held a press conference in Brussels to present the results from our survey on Perceptions on Tobacco Harm Reduction and Nicotine in France and Germany. Let me give you two shocking facts here, but you can read more here:Only 3 out of 15 doctors in Germany say they know the term “harm reduction”.69% of smokers in France and 74% of smokers in Germany wrongly believe nicotine causes cancer.
Politicians Are Coming for the App Store
On the other side of the world, the Wild West is wildin’ as usual. New legislation and an antitrust lawsuit threaten Apple’s monopoly over its App Store. Our Tech Policy Fellow Satya Marar correctly identifies that “It would also encourage investment in developer start-ups and could lower prices for in-app purchases, including for emerging technologies like NFTs, by allowing developers to circumvent Apple’s commissions through alternative digital payment methods.”
Satya also points out to the other unintended consequences of the Open App Markets Act, which may have some negative implications, too. I will leave it to you to find them out in the piece here.

Last but not least, our European Railway Station Index is still getting media attention!Inspired by two indices, the European Consumer Airport Index and the European Train Station Index in 2020. We looked at Europe’s 50 largest railway stations and ranked them in terms of passenger experience, crowdedness, and the variety of destinations. Check it out on our website!Also, keep your eyes peeled for this year’s Sharing Economy Index in the upcoming weeks!
That is all from us this month! We hope you stay tuned our great work around the world, and please reach out if there are some pressing consumer issues we shouldbe covering.

「世界で最も美しい駅」のひとつ欧州ナンバー1の駅に選ばれた「ライプツィヒ中央駅」の魅力とは?(ドイツ)

その町の玄関口として、多くの旅行者が最初に降り立つ場所となる「駅」。列車で到着後は、すぐにホテルや次の目的地へ向かう人がほとんどだろう。だが、ドイツには通り過ぎるだけではもったいない「特別な駅」がある。その筆頭ともいえるのがライプツィヒ中央駅。世界で最も美しい駅のひとつと称賛され、今やライプツィヒの観光名所となっている。とはいえ日本ではまだそれほど知られていない存在だろう。「ライプツィヒに行ったのに見逃していた!」と後悔する人が増えないように、ここで欧州最高に選ばれた駅の魅力をじっくりとご紹介したい

ヨーロッパ格付け1位!ライプツィヒ中央駅

1915年に開業したライプツィヒ中央駅は、列車がここで行き止まりになる構造の頭端式駅としてはヨーロッパ最大級。83,460平方メートルの床面積を有し、一日に約15万人もの人が利用する巨大ターミナル駅だ。以前より鉄道ファンをはじめ一部では知られた存在だったが、2021年に「European Railway Station Index」というランキングで1位に輝き知名度が急上昇。世界中から注目される駅となった。このランキングは消費者保護団体のConsumer Choice Centerが様々な要素に基づき毎年格付けしているもので、2021年版のトップ10には、ドイツからは1位のライプツィヒと同点5位のフランクフルト、ミュンヘンの3駅がランクインしている

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Die zehn besten Flughäfen in Europa

Die US-amerikanische Verbraucherschutz-Organisation Consumer Choice Center (CCC) hat zum ersten Mal den jährlichen „European Consumer Airport Index“ herausgegeben. Mit dessen Hilfe sollen Reisende die optimalen Drehkreuze unter den nach Passagieraufkommen 30 größten Flughäfen Europas ausfindig machen können.

Mit in die Bewertung eingeflossen sind Faktoren wie die Lage des Flughafens, die Transportmöglichkeiten, das Erlebnis am Flughafen und der Zugang zum Flugnetz. Laut CCC-Index sind dies die zehn passagierfreundlichsten Flughäfen in Europa.

10. Platz: Der „Franz Josef Strauß“ Flughafen in München (Deutschland) Der Flughafen München liegt ein wenig außerhalb des Stadtzentrums bei der Stadt Freising. Mit dem Airport Bus fährt man vom Hauptbahnhof rund 45 Minuten zum Flughafen. München gilt mit seinen zwei Terminals und Millionen Passagieren als einer der frequentiertesten Flughäfen innerhalb von Europa. Das Angebot vor Ort stimmt auch. Nicht nur im Airport Center (Bild) können Passagiere vorher noch eine Mahlzeit einnehmen oder shoppen, auch innerhalb des Lufthafens gibt es jede Menge Shops und Buden. Im Ranking erreicht er den Score 131.50. 

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Kryptospenden für beide Kriegsparteien

Wer Spenden für ukrainische Organisationen sammelt, kann diese in Kryptowährung umgewandelt und so sehr viel schneller und unkomplizierter als beim klassischen Geldtransfern versenden: In wenigen Minuten sind sie in der Ukraine angekommen. Über ein normales Bankkonto kann eine Überweisung schon mal drei bis zehn Tage dauern. Dazu kommen Transaktionsgebühren und möglicherweise ein schlechter Wechselkurs der Bank.

Spenden für die ukrainische Regierung

Aber nicht nur Nichtregierungsorganisationen nutzen Kryptowährungen für ihre Spenden in die Ukraine, sondern auch die Regierung des Landes selbst. „Wir bekamen Anfragen von unserem Militär, dass sie verschiedene Dinge bräuchten. Die Kosten dafür konnte die ukrainische Nationalbank am zweiten Kriegstag nur in sehr geringem Maße über klassische Geldtransfers zahlen“, so der stellvertretende ukrainische Minister für digitale Transformation im Oktober im Podcast Public Key.

Daher hätten Kryptowährungen in den ersten Kriegstagen sehr dabei geholfen, nötige militärische Ausrüstung zu besorgen. Bisher hat so der ukrainische Staat allein mehr als 60 Millionen Dollar gesammelt. Einen Großteil davon in den ersten Wochen.

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Das sind die zehn besten Bahnhöfe in Europa

Eine Verbraucherschutz-Organisation hat die 50 größten Bahnhöfe in Europa untersucht: Wo lässt es sich gut warten, stimmt die Infrastruktur und gibt es kostenlosen Internetzugang? Gleich fünf deutsche Städte schaffen es unter die ersten zehn Plätze.

Bahnhöfe sind Durchgangsstationen, an denen man nie lange bleiben möchte. Doch oft zwingen einen Verspätungen oder Zugausfälle zu langen Wartezeiten. Dann zeigt sich, wie gut das Umfeld wirklich ist: Gibt es genügend Restaurants, Läden und Lounges?

Die Verbraucherschutz-Organisation Consumer Choice Center mit Sitz in Washington D.C. hat jetzt ihren jährlichen European Railway Station Index für 2022 vorgelegt. Darin werden zum dritten Mal die 51 großen Bahnhöfe Europas mit deren Infrastruktur genauer untersucht.

Für die Bewertung spielen Kriterien wie deren Fahrgastzahlen, die Zahl der nationalen und internationalen Verbindungen, die Ausschilderung und Lounges sowie die Anzahl der Fahrstühle eine Rolle. Auch der barrierefreie Zugang für Rollstuhlfahrer, die Anbindung an den öffentlichen Personennahverkehr, die Zahl der Restaurants, Läden für die Versorgung und Rideshare-Möglichkeiten und Internetzugang werden berücksichtigt und fließen in den Index ein.

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Georgia could generate millions through sports betting

Georgia is one of the largest markets without legalized sports betting, and the state could rival others that have already legalized such wagering.

While the state does not have sports wagering, it does have a lottery. Last week, the Georgia Lottery Corp. reported its most profitable first quarter since its start in 1993.

The analysis found that Georgia, one of 15 states without legalized sports betting, could generate $600 million of revenue annually. The Empire State of the South could rival states like Michigan or Virginia if it legalized sports betting.

The Peach State’s “population rivals Ohio’s, and officials in Georgia have shown some recent interest in legalization, too,” PlayUSA said in a report. “The strength and positioning of the state lottery could complicate the proposed implementation, but we’ll choose to be optimistic for now.”

PlayUSA, a content and resource center for the legal gambling industry that focuses on the United States, predicted that at least two states will legalize sports betting next year. Georgia lawmakers have considered legalizing sports betting and casino gambling in the past.

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